Factional battles in Gauteng have again surfaced after Premier Nomvula Mokonyane declared that she was available for another term, but ANC leaders in the province said her name did not appear on the lists being circulated.
Mokonyane, a President Jacob Zuma loyalist, who led a campaign for his re-election in Mangaung last year, said this week that she would serve for a second term if deployed.
But Gauteng ANC leaders said that she did not stand a chance. They also said she would not receive the support of the current provincial executive committee (PEC) when it submitted a list of preferred candidates for the position.
According to the party's constitution, the ANC's PECs are required to decide on the three candidates whose names will be submitted to Luthuli House for a final decision.
"In the current branch general meetings taking place at the moment her [Mokonyane's] name is not being mentioned in the top five. Most branches prefer ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile, provincial secretary general David Makhura and Gauteng finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe," a senior provincial leader told the Mail & Guardian.
Another said: "She has committed suicidal blunders in the past few months, including the appointment of the Democratic Alliance's former Midvaal mayor, Timothy Nast, in the Gauteng planning commission without consulting the PEC.
"She also runs parallel political programmes to the PEC, using state resources to undermine the ANC leadership in the province.
"At the weekend, she pulled out of the unveiling of the tombstone of [anti-apartheid activist] Rahima Moosa because she didn't want to share the stage with the so-called 'forces of change'."
A provincial executive member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "Nomvula is a national leader, that's why she is not on our provincial list.
"She is a national executive committee member and a national working committee member."
Mokonyane dismissed suggestions that she was not a preferred candidate for premier because her name was not on the ANC lobbying lists.
"I don't know of the lists where my name does not appear. This is the process of the ANC and it is managed internally and, as far as I am concerned, it has not been concluded yet.
"There is still a lot of work to be done in the province and, if the ANC wants to deploy me as Gauteng premier, I will avail myself. I have a responsibility to serve the ANC wherever I am deployed," Mokonyane said.
"I have also not heard any suggestions that the PEC will not back me for the premier position. It is not the immediate issue for me.
"The immediate issue for me is to mobilise the members of the ANC and focus on canvassing support for the elections. What is of importance to me is to win this province. That's my preoccupation at the moment."
ANC provincial spokesperson Nkenke Kekana said Mokonyane's future would be determined by the party at an appropriate time.
"She is right in saying that the ANC is responsible for deployment. The ANC will take a decision on who becomes premier. The list process is still ongoing and I cannot confirm whether her name is there or not," Kekana said.
There has been political hostility between rival factions in Gauteng for some time and it is likely to resurface when the party holds its list conference in the next few weeks.
Zuma's decision to appoint Moko-nyane as Gauteng premier instead of Mashatile in 2009 surprised and angered the provincial leadership.
Women waiting in the wings to be president
Gauteng premier and senior ANC leader Nomvula Mokonyane said the party is more than ready for a female president.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian this week, Mokonyane contradicted women's league president Angie Motshekga, who early this month told a media briefing that the ANC is not ready for a woman to lead it.
"We have plenty women who can lead the party – and the republic," said Mokonyane.
"Nothing is complicated for the ANC. When the opportunity [to look for a female president] arises, we do have that capacity in the movement. For now, there is a male president but it doesn't preclude that there can be a woman leader of the ANC. The ANC Women's League has been at the forefront of advocating for women's rights and representation."
Earlier this month, Motshekga, who is a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, told journalists in Johannesburg that the women's league would be "fighting a losing battle" if it pushed for a female president.
"You don't just wake up and make a pronouncement to say I am going to be a deputy president. It's a process. It's got its own life and is not a fly-by-night. We will do it in a respectful and not in an opportunistic way," she said.
Mokonyane is being lobbied to challenge Motshekga for the position of president of the league.
Asked whether she was ready for it, Mokonyane said diplomatically that "we're busy with the elections campaign. There is no conference of the women's league and so there is no need to be dealing with issues of leadership succession. I have served the ANC in different capacities without being an elected member, even in lower structures. That is the most important thing for me." – M&G reporters